Mark Simons (center), pictured with Lakewood Service Adviser Mario Speer and Service Manager Kassandra Lane, says he supplies his staff with the best tools and processes available for them to succeed.Mark and Sara Simons co-own two Rolf’s Import Auto Service facilities, where they have been streamlining workflow with shop management systems.ASE-certified Technician Michael Nelson attends all three days of the Automotive Training Expo (ATE) held in Seattle each March along with other shop staff.

Building efficiencies, building business

From shop management systems to continuous training and industry involvement, Rolf’s Import Auto Service thrives

Lakewood, Wash.-When Mark Simons realized his shop management system was phasing out, he began looking for alternatives, eventually landing with Protractor in 2012.

“We wanted a system that would house the data and contacts for both of our shops and Protractor was the best fit for us. Later on, we joined ShopPros — a business coaching, management and training group — and Protractor was their software of choice.”

     That was just one of the changes Simons made when he and his wife, Sara, purchased the two-location Rolf’s Import Auto Service — a longtime fixture in the Tacoma area since 1970 — from his late father, Rolf Simons, who had been a licensed machinist from Germany.

Simons began working for his father full time in 2001 at the 5,000-square-foot Lakewood shop, which averages 143 vehicles a month, after attending Tacoma Community College and a career in country club management. Annual combined revenues for 2018 were $2,950, with an ARO of $765, which increased on average by $60 after implementing Autoserv1 digital inspections.

     The father-and-son team opened a second location in Fife in 2006, which is an 8,000-square-foot facility with eight lifts/service bays and an average monthly car count of 173. Three months later, he and wife, Sara, purchased the shops.

     The digital inspections AutoServe1 platform, which works seamlessly with Protractor, Simons said, adding that the feedback from customers on the digital inspections has been positive.

     “Clients like that they are more involved with the repair process and value the pictures and videos because they see what the technicians see. So, it was important for us to have a management system that works with AutoServe1. It was one of the most profitable changes we’ve made in years.”

     Protractor also creates reports and tracks data. “I can create virtually any type of report I can think of relating to the business. The software is updated regularly and Protractor provides wonderful support. Their staff truly listens to their clients and creates changes or updates that are relevant to our suggestions.”

     Mitchell 1 repair software is built into Protractor so most of job times are from Mitchell.

“We also use AllData for verification of job times and technicians use it for tech support,” in addition to iATN, BIMRS, Identifix, and subscriptions to several OEMs.

     “In October of 2017 we updated to and immediately the service managers and advisers (two at each facility) became more efficient, Simons said. “It took slightly longer with the technicians, but not much longer. Because we’re using, this year we are moving toward being completely paperless.”


Training advocate

     Simons, who is an Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) through Automotive Management Institute (AMI) training, is a strong believer in continuous training, and is a longtime member of ASA Northwest (ASA-NW). His entire staff (eight techs and the four service managers/advisers, plus himself) attend all three days of the Automotive Training Expo (ATE) held in Seattle each March. ATE is produced by ASA-NW.

     “We also attend four to six WORLDPAC training seminars each year, have in-house Bosch training, and BIMRS management and technical training. Plus, twice a year, Gary Smith, one of the nation’s top automotive trainers, comes to our shops and works one-on-one with techs.”


Industry involvement

     Simons has been active in the Pierce County Chapter of ASA-NW and over the past two decades has served in various positions, including president from 2011-2012. He currently serves as a board member and treasurer of the ASA-NW regional organization.

     “I really enjoy the valuable relationships I have established within ASA-NW. Networking with other shops and working with Allied members, who supply products and services to members, has been rewarding.”

     The shop has been an EnviroStars-certified facility since 2005 and both facilities recycle all products, including oils and fluids, cardboard, paper, and other products.


Shop culture

     Simons said the shops’ success is due to the employees and their overall dedication to the customers. “The service staff works closely with our clients, and the techs perform needed inspections, services, and repairs. They are truly professional and care for the trade they have chosen. We all have pride in doing the best job possible, and with that comes expertise. We supply the staff with the best tools and processes available for them to succeed, but they are the ones who have instilled the confidence our clients have in the services we provide.”



Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.